The firm said it previously had to limit the rice bran quantities it could deliver to some of its customers, due to limitations in supply.
The new agreement with Farmer's Rice Cooperative of Sacramento, California means that NutraCea will be able to supply directly to 27 customers. The firm said all the new customers were previously supplied with its stabilized rice bran (SRB) from the Cooperative, but the earlier agreement had placed limitations on the rice bran quantities these customers could receive.
The firms – many of them large food companies, including two Fortune 100 companies – will now benefits from the new agreement, which commences immediately, said NutraCea.
"We are pleased to report that we are now able to directly supply and service these large food companies without any limitations," said Kody Newland, senior vice president of sales of NutraCea.
"As result of our having direct access to these customers, we expect to significantly increase our sales in 2009 to them."
Nutrients and costs
While rice bran is rich in fiber and a host of other beneficial nutrients, one of the main attractions for manufacturers is the cost savings it can confer.
Rice bran can be used as a low cost flour extender and a substitute for other, more expensive ingredients, including wheat. It is also claimed to improve product yield and maintain product quality.
The recent sky-rocketing price of grains led food manufacturers to look to reformulation for the long-term.
The use of rice bran can also result in a non-allergenic product without soy. Additionally, meat extenders are typically used in place of meat fat, which is extracted. Newland said this makes for a more nutritious product, as rice bran has been found to be very rich in nutrients.
Rice bran oil
Earlier this year, NutraCea entered the rice bran oil market, following the purchase of South America's largest rice bran oil processing facility in February.
The firm, which has so far focused its activities on stabilized rice bran, said it will now start selling the healthy rice bran oil on the global market as an alternative to other edible oils.
NutraCea said the oil can be used in any applications where edible oils are used.
It is thought to contain vitamin E complex, and other micronutrients.